Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says it is unfortunate that 88,101 farmers have not yet received farming inputs because that is killing agriculture.

In a ministerial statement to parliament last week, Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo announced that the Treasury had not yet released funds to clear government’s contribution to 88,101 farmers.

But in an interview with News Diggers! ZNFU media liaison officer Calvin Kaleyi described the situation as saddening.

“It is a very unfortunate situation. This is what we have been talking about all the time that farmers needs to be paid on time so that they start planning ahead and so on. Look at the situation that we have found ourselves in instead. To date, this is March, mid-march, farmers have not been able to access or to redeem inputs. What kind of farming are they going to practice? These are people that solely rely on agriculture for their livelihood. And they have not received inputs up to now, it’s a very sad development. We pray that this does not repeat itself. This is killing agriculture. It is demotivating to the farmers. These are farmers that some made deposits, they can’t redeem, and we expect agriculture to grow?” Kaleyi asked.

He said there was need to rectify all the e-voucher system flaws ahead of the next farming season.

“We are calling upon the powers that be to look into this issue. So that farmers can be able to redeem their inputs by June/July. And in that way they can be able to plan ahead for the coming season. Not a situation where in March they are failing to redeem. What kind of system is this? So we need to ensure that all the flaws that have been encountered on the e-vulture are cleaned up. And that is what is going to help grow the agriculture sector. That is what is going to help the country attain the dream of being a food basket of the region. We want to have a fresh start to agriculture. We want to see new beginning’s where inputs are delivered in time. Where farmers are paid on time. Where these challenges of farmers failing to access money should come to an end. Let’s have a fresh start where a farmer will be able to walk to a bank and be able to access a loan without huddles. Let’s have a system where a farmer will be able to have inputs by June/ July so that come November they are doing land preparations and December they are planting,” Kaleyi said.

Kaleyi advised his fellow farmers to not to give up.

“Us farmers our calling is a very difficult calling. We have to feed the people. Let’s not give up because of these challenges that we are encountering. Let’s forge ahead and see light. We are supposed to feed people. Let’s not give up,” said Kaleyi.